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Most Recent news
12/6/06 Storm Evacuees Remain in Grip of Uncertainty
 
8/28/06 First Year anniversary of Katrina
provokes calls for action
 
HOAX ANNOUNCEMENT:
HUD SECRETARY ANNOUNCES ALL
           PUBLIC HOUSING TO REOPEN IN NEW ORLEANS 8/28/06
 
Clamoring to Come Home to New Orleans Projects New Orleans, 6/05/06 Hundreds of displaced residents of public housing have for several days been returning here for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. (NYTimes)
Evacuees Find Housing Grants Will End Soon HOUSTON, 4/27/06 Thousands of hurricane evacuees who counted on a year of free housing and utilities are being told by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that they are no longer eligible for such help and must either pay the rent themselves or leave
 
Evacuees' Lives Still Upended Seven Months After Hurricane 3/ 22/2006
Study by The New York Times based on interviews with 300 evacuees finds that blacks bear a heavier economic and social burden than whites.
 
Civil Rights and Religious Groups Say EPA Must Clean Up New Orleans Contamination 3/15/06
 

Louisiana Turns to the Needs of Renters nytimes.com 3/15/06
("Everybody who's back here, who's low income," Ms. Jones said, "is being picked on.")

 
Nothing Stops Mardi Gras
By Jordan Flaherty (from Left Turn)
FEMA Fails Katrina Evacuees
From Democracy Now!
FEMA Fails Katrina Evacuees on Housing: Hotel Evictions Continue, Promises of Trailers and Rental Assistance Unmet

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff spoke about the ongoing hotel
evictions of Hurricane Katrina evacuees during his testimony before the bi-partisan Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs. We speak with attorneys Bill Quigley and Tracie Washington, who
represent a number of evacuees staying in hotels and facing eviction,
and also an evacuee, about the ongoing housing crisis. [includes rush
transcript]
_____
Chertoff has been on the defensive since a Government Accountability
Office Report was filed on February 1st. That report and the House
report filed yesterday sharply criticized his agency's response to the
disaster. After Chertoff's opening statement, the hearing was
interrupted by audience member Reverend Lennox Yearwood. He is CEO of
the Hip Hop Caucus.

In Wednesday's hearing, Chertoff admitted to several failures, including
that he and his department had moved far too slowly in obtaining buses
to evacuate the thousands of refugees stranded in the New Orleans
superdome and Convention Center. Chertoff also admitted to wrongly
entrusting former FEMA head Michael Brown with managing the response to
the disaster. In testimony last week Michael Brown admitted to willfully
working to circumvent Mr. Chertoff's authority during and after the
hurricane.

Chertoff blamed his department's failures on lapses in management and
communication and also said that the Department of Homeland Security's
excessive focus on the threat of terrorism had hindered its ability to
prepare for a natural disaster. Chertoff also spoke yesterday about the
ongoing hotel evictions of evacuees.

* Tracie Washington, an Attorney based in New Orleans and
currently representing a number of evacuees who are staying in hotels
and are facing eviction.
* Bill Quigley, law professor at Loyola University
* Debra Bell, Katrina evacuee living in Houston who will have to
be out of her hotel by March 1st.

 
First Year Anniversary
 
Hopes and homes subject to seizure on Katrina s anniversary

We have to watch the redevelopment in New Orleans for a lot of reasons, and
one of them is to make sure that the shadow government of the rich and the
powerful does not end up abusing eminent domain to take property that
belongs to poor people in order to get them out of the city. U.S. Rep.
Maxine Waters, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 21, 2005

by Stephen Bradberry and Jeffrey Buchanan

The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2006, should be a
day to remember our commitments to our fellow Americans and mourn our
collective losses. It should be a day to reflect on what we as American
citizens expect from our government in our most dire hour of need. It
should be a time to honor the courage of the hundreds of thousands of still
displaced Katrina survivors as they struggle to return home one year after
the storm broke land.

Instead of commemorating the disaster, Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans
City Council have callously chosen the one-year anniversary of Katrina to
begin a policy that will demolish what little hope displaced, largely
African American, families have of returning to their city. In May, the New
Orleans City Council unanimously passed City Ordinance #26031, which sets a
deadline for homeowners to gut their homes or potentially lose them.

By Aug. 29, homeowners who have not been able to make the necessary repairs
to their battered homes risk having their property seized by eminent domain
and bulldozed by the city. The Council s decision will further cleanse New
Orleans of its African American low and middle income families, continuing
the exclusion and discrimination that have become hallmarks of the
reconstruction.

But the survivors of Katrina are not alone. Although the government is not
fulfilling its obligations, many non-governmental organizations are trying
to help survivors. Groups like the Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now are working around the clock to save homes from demolition
and enforce a principle of fairness and inclusion in the disaster recovery
process.

Many working-class families cannot return to New Orleans to prevent their
homes from being seized. Most are still waiting to receive payment from
insurance claims and are unable to pay the roughly $10,000 charged by
contractors to gut their home, nor can they afford to take time off to gut
their homes themselves.

Low-income families in New Orleans could now lose their homes before
receiving a dime from the federal government s $7.5 billion in community
block grants to Louisiana s Road Home home repair grant program for
homeowners. Those vitally needed funds, despite being given to the state of
Louisiana months ago, remain tied up in red tape by bumbling state
bureaucrats as people in New Orleans and around the state wait in desperate
need of a helping hand.

ACORN has been able to win some relief for the working-class families who
could lose their homes. It convinced the City Council to amend City
Ordinance #26031 to make the Lower Ninth Ward a hardship case, protecting
those who were hardest hit by the failing levees from the seizure ordinance.

Compounding the injury, many of the affected homeowners are displaced,
living out of state and unaware of the home demolition policy. Getting
information is very difficult for the more than 200,000 former residents of
New Orleans, mostly working class African-American families, who are still
spread across 44 different states.

Most have no way of knowing the current state of their homes and
neighborhoods basic issues like whether the water and electricity are
running or whether their local schools are open. The overwhelming majority
of relevant government decisions, including this ordinance, do not make it
into the national news reports or local broadcasts in their new communities.

The City appears oblivious to the crippling lack of information in this
crisis. It believes it does not need to directly contact homeowners in
accordance with due process, required by the U.S. Constitution, before it
can begin seizing property.

After being sued for attempting to bulldoze homes in the Lower Ninth Ward
last December, the City of New Orleans settled with local groups by
pledging to post seizure information on the City website and in New Orleans
daily newspaper, the Times Picayune, to fulfill due process requirements.

Never mind that most affected displaced people live outside of the Times
Picayune s distribution area and may not have an internet connection.
Displaced families, without actually being notified, will remain completely
in the dark as they lose their homes.

ACORN is currently fighting to win protection for families whose properties
are listed on gutting lists, as well as fighting for real legal
notification for displaced homeowners and a more realistic timeline to
clean out homes.

Since December, ACORN has helped survivors by gutting more than 1,500
homes. ACORN is offering families at no cost the service of gutting and
preserving their home. ACORN is also arranging for homes to be adopted by
donors, thus covering gutting costs for low-income families. ACORN has also
been recruiting volunteers and organizations to New Orleans this summer to
help save the homes.

If a foreign government began seizing the homes of vulnerable disaster
victims especially without notification in an area where the U.S. is
providing disaster relief, the U.S. government would not just stand on the
sidelines. The State Department and U.S. Agency for International
Development have significant programs supporting the protection of the
rights of internally displaced people (IDPs) the term for those displaced
from their homes to a different part of their country by a disaster in
areas like post-tsunami Sri Lanka.

American diplomats lobby other nations to uphold internationally accepted
principles for IDPs that assure things like property and possessions left
behind by IDPs should be protected against destruction and arbitrary and
illegal appropriation, occupation or use. USAID also runs programs assuring
displaced people have the right to information about what is going on in
their former communities. By some twisted logic, the U.S. government and
the New Orleans mayor and City Council must think it s acceptable that
Americans be excluded from such rights.

Despite these obstacles, New Orleans will begin seizing not just houses
from devastated communities but also the hopes of thousands of residents
returning home on the anniversary of our nation s greatest tragedy. City
Ordinance #26031 is proof that the interests and human rights of the now
disenfranchised displaced victims of the storm are no longer respected in
their former communities or by the federal government.

Though the human rights situation in New Orleans remains woeful, there is
still a chance to salvage the hopes of these struggling families and to
save their homes. You can help honor the upcoming one year anniversary of
Hurricane Katrina even if the New Orleans City Council and the federal
government refuse to by pledging to volunteer or donate to help community
organizations like ACORN in New Orleans.

If you are displaced from New Orleans or know someone who is, call ACORN
now at 1 (800) 239-7379, ext. 187, to begin the process of saving your home
by putting it on the clean-out list. Other organizations providing free
house gutting and also seeking volunteers and donations are listed on the
City of New Orleans website, www.cityofno.com. They include Common Ground,
(504) 312-1731; United Methodist Recovery, (504) 461-0425; Catholic
Charities, (504) 895-5439; and United Church of Christ, (504) 258-7306.

Stephen Bradberry, laacornho@acorn.org, is head organizer for ACORN New
Orleans and recipient of the 2005 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Jeffrey Buchanan, Buchanan@rfkmemorial.org, is communications officer,
Center for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, www.rfkmemorial.org.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Archives
NOW Joins Call for Emergency Gulf Coast Renewal Plan
Katrina Survivors come to Washington D.C. to visit with representatives, with support from ACORN and AFL-CIO
(2/8 &9) read more
 
Study Says 80% of New Orleans Blacks May Not Return (1/27/06)
 
 
Loans to Homeowners Along Gulf Coast Lag Dec 15, 2005
 
The Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast:
Multiple Disadvantages and Key Assets for Recovery
Part I. Poverty, Race, Gender and Class
IWPR Briefing Paper
 
 
Wearying Wait for Federal Aid in New Orleans
Dec. 3, 2005
 
 
Jobs and Joblessness on the Gulf Coast
 
In Louisiana, Worker Influx Causes Ill Will
 
 
Lack of Section 8 Vouchers for Storm Evacuees Highlights Rift Over Housing Program
 
Stonewalling the Katrina Victims
 
Wooing Workers for New Orleans 11/11/05
 
 
FEMA Broke Its Promise on Housing, Houston Mayor Says 11/17/05
 
 
Habitat is building homes in the Gulf. For information on volunteering or seeking employment in Miss.(supervision, with construction experience), call
601-353-6000, or 6060, or
601-354-0877(regional office in Jackson, Miss.) or browse
http://www.habitat.org/hr
 
 
Mississippi Governor's Forum on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BUILDERS SOLIDARITY PROJECT, San Francisco
Sunday,
Nov 20th, 1pm
at 522 Valencia St. at 16th, 3rd floor auditorium.
You do not need to be in the building trades to get involved! We are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, union members
and allies organizing other tradespeople to mobilize tools and resources in solidarity with hurricane devastated areas of the gulf coast.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation of new and used tools or a financial contribution for Hurricane Katrina and Rita reconstruction efforts. Support a reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast that puts,the needs of the population over the profits of corporate interest. For more information on the groups we are sending donations to see:

Community Labor United
http://www.communitylaborunited.net
United Houma Nation
http://www.unitedhoumanation.org

To Make a Donation or to Get Involved please contact us:Call 415-240-2277 or email builderssolidarity@riseup.net